October 2, 2006 (by Asif Shamim) - The Pakistani Air Force announced today the signing of an agreement between the Pakistani and U.S. governments for the US to provide 18 new F-16 fighter jets to the country.
Two-ship Pakistani F-16A formation, #84704 and #84705 - note the slightly different color scheme.
The deal also includes the upgrade of the current 32 F-16s in the fleet and air-to-air and air-to-ground weaponry, the air force said in a statement.
In July, the US Defence Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress that the F-16s would come with 200 Sidewinder
and 500 AIM-120C5 air-to-air missiles plus 800 general purpose 2,000 and 500-pound bombs.
The two governments signed the letter of offer and acceptance in Islamabad on Saturday. Sept 30, but it is not clear when these new fighters would be delivered to Pakistan
One diplomatic source was quoted to have said, "Under the deal, even a day’s delay could have caused an increase of more than $140 million in the price". The same source also suggested some differences on the money Pakistan had to pay up front. "All the differences, on payment installations, on technical restrictions, have been resolved to satisfactory level," he said.
Asked to define the level of satisfaction, the source said: "Both sides had to accommodate each other before they reached an understanding".
The signing has taken place, even though in the recent weeks several news agencies have reported a delay in pen going to paper due to the US imposing new conditions on the sale. It has been suggested that the jets in question did not have or had reduced electronic warfare (EW) capabilities, which Pakistan had serious issues with.
This jet deal goes back to the 1980s, when Washington initially agreed to sell further F-16s, only to scrap the accord after sanctions were applied on Pakistan for pursuing it’s nuclear weapons program.